Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Politically Incorrect Show - 08/11/2001

I am shocked at how easily I can still be shocked. I have seen so much cowardice, appeasement & betrayal of principle in my life I thought I was inured to it. Clearly I am not. Today I have been shocked by two instances of it - one personal, one political.

First, the personal. (I wouldn't normally discuss such an event publicly, but it complements the political story so eloquently that I can't resist.) Three weeks or so ago I went out on my first date since my arrival in Wellington. It was wonderful. The young man & I revelled in each other's lively company, good food & wine ... & yes, the ultimate consummation. Then I heard nothing from him. Until today. He phoned to say that, though he had enjoyed our date enormously, he felt he couldn't afford to let matters develop further because if he were to be seen with me - me, the notorious libertarian - that would jeopardise his job & his existing friendships. I SHOULD have had the presence of mind to say that if I were to be seen with a social climber of the sort he had just revealed himself to be, that would jeopardise my self-respect. As it was, I was speechless.

Now, the political story. Today, the government announced the newest form of extortion it's going to impose on us - 12 weeks paid parental leave for working women who get pregnant. "Paid" by whom? By you & me, of course. Now, we should all be outraged by this cannibalistic atrocity, but wouldn't you expect employers in particular to be especially outraged? Ha bloody ha! Take a look at this - today's press release from the employer lobby group, Business New Zealand:


Employers are pleased the paid parental leave policy announced today will be funded from taxation instead of an employer levy, says Business New Zealand Executive Director Anne Knowles.

Ms Knowles says implementation issues will have to be clearly understood before next July.

³New parents will still have their entitlement to 12 monthsı parental leave but will now be eligible to receive a parental payment for 12 weeks of this period.

³That payment will encourage more parents to take leave, which will mean more opportunities for temporary workers, but which may create a larger problem for employers in getting temporary replacements. This will be made worse by the fact that there is no requirement for those taking parental leave to actually return to the job once the leave is over, and no requirement for them to inform their employer of their intentions until three weeks before they are due to return.

³Neither do they have to repay any of the money received if they do not return to work. As a result, women who previously would have resigned knowing they were not going to return to work will now be more likely to apply for leave.

³This is likely to place a great deal of uncertainty on employers and might, in some cases, make them less keen to employ young women ­ and that would be very unfortunate.²

Take in the import of this. The government announce they're going to steal an extra $42 million from all of us to pay working women to get pregnant, & employers say, thank goodness they're stealing it from everyone, not just us employers; & hey, this'll be great for temporary workers, but - oh dear! - it would be "very unfortunate" if opportunistic bonkers in the "permanent" work force were to leave employers high & dry.

That is the best they can do?

Again, I'm speechless. I don't have the words in my vocabulary to express my contempt for this mentality in broadcastable terms. Normally I take the trouble to craft these editorials so that the ending harks back to the beginning, they're integrated wholes, etc.. Tonight I can't be bothered. I just want to say to the "people" I've cited here, & to the sick, cynical, cowardly world of which they're so representative: "Go fuck yourselves!"

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